The Return… of our old Bulls

Much as been speculated from outside sources about the Return of Chicago’s biggest star, Derrick Rose. After his comments to USA Today about making sure he was completely healthy before playing in a game and saying he can’t dunk in stride yet, made many believe that he would sit out for the rest of the season. And if you are as big of a pessimist of as Bulls Beat-writer Nick Fridell, whose job is to cover this team 24/7, then you agree that he won’t be coming back. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Superstars like LeBron, Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook and Kobe have spoken out in support with whatever path Rose takes. Along with his teammates who seem to be the only ones who know how he is actually doing considering they scrimmage him every practice, they have been impressed by how strong his upper-body is coming along and how much better he has gotten.  Yet they keep on saying he will comeback whenever he feels right and support him all the way through just like anyone would say. So here is my take on the entire situation.

As I am writing this blog right now, in the background is the voice of Stacy King and Neil Funk calling the Bulls-Cavs game right now in which the Cavs are leading even without Kyrie Irving, their only superstar. It only makes me think one thing, are the Irving-less Cavs better than the Rose-less Bulls? Who have two All-Stars in Deng and Noah? Obviously no. The Bulls are a much better team. But right now they are tired, sluggish and injury-ridden. It’s almost sad to watch because we all know the potential this team has. We forget and miss the team that came into every game like it was their last. A team that fought hard and played the leagues best defense night in and night out. They were able to stop any star collectively for 48 minutes and in 2010 they rode that style of play to the leagues best record. That was 2010. In 2011 our Superstar was injured on a regular basis but still the Bulls found a way. Behind the Bench Mob, they beat Miami and Boston. And the motto was, next man up, knowing that eventually Rose would comeback. Still all the while gathering the leagues best record again. And for 3 and 3.9/4ths of Game 1 against the  76ers, they played and looked like potential champions. Rose and Hamilton meshed so well it didn’t look like they had only played 13 games together during the season. Then it all fell apart. First Rose’s knee then the entire team it seemed.

The Bulls I am watching right now are not the team we used to love. Yes of course we still love them but its hard to watch. Under 2 minutes left and they can’t buy a shot but Cleveland’s Luke Walton can. It just doesn’t makes sense. It doesn’t makes sense that the Bulls play better on the road than at home this year. A place where they simply never lost. Even with the emergence of Jimmy Butler the Bulls still struggle against teams like the Cavs. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah play 40 plus minutes every game and it takes a wear and tear on their bodies struggling to keep up. Keep in mind Noah is battling Plantar-Fasciitis and Deng still has a torn ligament in his left wrist. Yet they give 110% every night but simply can’t do it all. Before the All-Star break when there was nothing but good things coming from Rose, the Bulls outplayed teams they shouldn’t have. Beating Boston and Miami in their own backyard. Punishing the Knicks who are apparently “elite” now. But it’s a different story today.

With the USA Today comments by Rose so speculated in the worst way possible and Reggie Rose’s (Derrick’s Brother) talking about how the Bulls have done too little to rebuild around Rose and it would be a major factor in Rose coming back this season. While these comments were a little out of line, they were still true. Since all these comments becoming national news and the everyday report on Rose’s health becoming more and more covered on a daily basis by more than just the typical Bulls reporters, it has taken the life out of this team. 5-10 to be exact is the record of this team during and after all the reports and interviews. It makes us all think, is he coming back? Logic points to the opinion (amazingly) of Nick Fridell’s point of view of no, he is not coming back this season. But he also said that the Bulls would be under .500 for most of this year. Many ESPN analysts say he will come back, but that is more of a hope than a statement due to the fact that they are getting tired of covering how good LeBron is or how bad the Lakers transition defense is. My opinion is that he will come back. Mid March or so. While I hope this is true, there is substantial evidence that he does make his return. First he wants too, he cares too much not to come back. Second he has to play in a game sometime, he has to know what it feels like in a game situation again before next season or else the first two months will be him feeling his knee out. He said he will come back when he can dunk in stride. Nuff said about that.

While right now the direction this team is headed seems dim and there are much better chances that a championship comes from the Blackhawks not the Bulls this year, the future is bright, it always has been. Thibs is the best defensive mind in the league. Noah and Deng are two of the best defenders at their position and are both All-Stars. Gibson and Butler are two weapons off the bench. And Marquis Teague has shown plenty of potential to backup Rose. The Bulls will have an unprotected Lottery pick from the Bobcats in 2016 and have already drafted what many say the “Next young Dirk Nowitzki” in Nikola Mitoric who is coming overseas in the next season or two. None of this matters of course until Rose is back on the floor, dunking over people, hitting clutch shots and igniting the United Center crowd. I’m sure his game will change a little bit. Instead of always driving to the basket, he will pull up and hit a 15 footer, saving his body from crashing into the floor. He  might even develop a post-game with his more powerful upper body. Or he will continue to be the beast that floats in the air in between 3 defenders and somehow puts the ball in the basket. The only man that knows what he will be like, is of course Derrick Rose.

This team isn’t a lost cause yet. Sure as I am sitting here watching Alonzo Gee and Luke Walton out-play and out-hustle the Bulls to a 101-98 victory over the Bulls in the UC, I know that these are the dog days. These are the days where we will have to accept that Miami is better than us and they can back it up. But the only thing that keeps me sane is the look of LeBron’s face when the Bulls beat them in the Eastern Conference finals. It may not be this year, or the next, but sometime. Thinking about a Bulls team that adds another superstar and gets another bench together that we can finally call the Bench Mob again. The team that plays defense night in and night out, fights every for possession like its their last. That team will be back. But for now, true Bulls fans will stick with the team that loses to the Cavs, Bobcats and Wizards. Its hard to be a Bulls fan now I know, but it won’t be too hard to be one when Derrick Rose and his teammates are on top of a bus holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy with a see of Red lining the streets to Chicago. That’s what keeps the hope alive. Come back soon Derrick.


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